Lionel Messi looks like a man with a point to prove in 2015

Not many people argued with Cristiano Ronaldo being awarded the Ballon d’Or last month, with the Real Madrid forward retaining the prestigious accolade due to extraordinary feats for the European champions.

Although there was a case that World Cup winner Manuel Neuer should have been recognised, Lionel Messi did not consistently hit the unbelievable heights that he had showed in previous years.

The start of the year saw the Argentine superstar benched in Barcelona’s first game after the mid-season break, which resulted in the Catalan side being surprisingly defeated 1-0 at Anoeta by Real Sociedad.

Rumblings of a potential fall-out between Messi and club coach Luis Enrique started doing the rounds in the media, with the British press in particular getting rather excited by the potential of the four-times Ballon d’Or winner maybe, just maybe, coming to the Premier League.

Since then, the diminutive South American has let his actions do the talking.

The fact that Messi was on the bench for the Sociedad defeat is not a coincidence; Barcelona have played seven games in all competitions since, Messi has started them all, the club have won them all.

The Argentina international’s presence at the sport’s pinnacle may well be down to sheer God-given ability, but many overlook Messi’s sheer determination and will to win.

Lionel MessiBeing omitted at Sociedad will not have sat easily with the 27-year-old, who wants to play every minute of every game.

The fact that perennial rival Ronaldo picked up the Ballon d’Or for the second successive year, with Messi in attendance to witness the Portuguese’s odd chant noise as he accepted the award, will not have sat well with him either.

As such, over the last couple of weeks Messi has looked like a man with a point to prove – and well and truly the best player on the planet.

He has scored nine goals in the last seven games since the defeat at Anoeta and is clearly revelling in his role back on the right-hand side of the Blaugrana’s attack.

This purple period takes him to 22 La Liga goals for the campaign, and although Ronaldo has 28 in total, Messi has scored more from open play due to Ronaldo’s eight penalties.

Messi is the only player in La Liga, the Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 or Serie A to score eight or more goals with both feet this season and looks to hitting top form just as Barcelona need him most.

A superb winner in the 3-2 victory over Villarreal at the weekend was Messi’s latest example of individual brilliance and there is no doubting that 2015 has been an excellent year so far for the Argentinian.

Barcelona are by no-means firing on all cylinders at the moment, with questions remaining over the centre of their defence and big-money summer signing Luis Suárez struggling to replicate the scintillating form he displayed at Anfield.

However, with Messi in his current mood, Barcelona cannot be written off in any of the competitions they remain in and opposition defences should approach facing the South American attacker with trepidation – starting with Athletic Bilbao this Sunday.

Seemingly unplayable at the moment, Messi at his best is a glorious sight for the neutral and his place amongst the sport’s all-time greats is well and truly reconfirmed.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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